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A Selection of Academic Writing from Mediating Equity in Shared Water Between Community and Industry: The effects of an after

school program that addresses adolescents' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of water science and environmental issues By: Chandler Patton For access to the full manuscript and supplemental videos please visit my professional website. Project Overview In March 2010 I began co-teaching an after school program in the neighborhood of Mesolandia in the Malambo municipality, a coastal community situated near the city of Barranquilla in the Colombian state of Atlntico. I assumed instruction of the group from September 2010 to May 2011, as I concurrently developed and taught an integrated environmental and social justice curriculum to adolescent activists from the community. After receiving Internal Review Board (IRB) approval, I began collecting data for this ethnography. The following is an excerpt from the study and its associated literature review. In this study, I functioned as both the primary teacher of the after school program as well as the lead researcher. It took place over an eight-month period in Mesolandia, a community where displacement, migration, and institutional poverty have caused fragmented urbanization. Located in a primarily industrial part of the city, Mesolandia shares a border with Barranquilla, the fourth largest and most industrial city in Colombia. Surrounded by Barranquillas International Airport and the Magdalena River, Mesolandia also borders a chicken processing plant, as well as an international shipping and cargo company. In this community, certain homes have irregular access to running water but the majority do not have the infrastructure to bring water into the home. None of the homes are connected to a municipal sewer line, and as a direct result, sewage flows directly from the houses, through the unpaved streets, and into the Magdalena River. Every few years the river floods its banks during the rainy season, leaving families no other option than to live on makeshift lofts under the roof of their houses until the water recedes. Mesolandias sociopolitical position is as relevant to this study as its geographic location. Colombias government ranks socioeconomic strata from zero to six. Strata zero would be comparable to unincorporated colonias along the U.S border with Mexico, while families in strata six would be considered wealthy, even in developed countries. The Colombian government classifies Mesolandia as strata zero. Although the Malambo municipality serves Mesolandia, much of the aid received comes from a non-profit organization called Punto de Encuentro. Despite significant support, the abject poverty and lack of basic services is painfully evident from the moment one enters Mesolandia. In the months preceding my work with the students, the schools roof had collapsed. Consequently, classes had been cancelled indefinitely. By June, limited class offerings had resumed until the school fully reopened at the end of 2010. In spite of having a new roof and improved instructional space, the school still had no water connection as of April 2011 because the water company and local government had been unable to come to an agreement about how the connectivity and access issues should be resolved.

The dispute over the schools water connection demonstrates how questions about water ownership and public responsibility have not been locally, let alone universally, resolved. The case in Mesolandia is just one that illustrates how debates about resource ownership between local government and private industry are preventing disenfranchised students from obtaining an education in a safe and sanitary environment. During this study, students in the after school program were asked to collectively examine questions about water ownership and economics. The primary aim of the after school program was to integrate the teaching of water science, environmental education, activism, and human rights. Students were encouraged to identify what they perceived as the biggest environmental and health problems in their community, as well as ways they could take meaningful action and be change agents. Students created digital media presentations in an effort to share findings with community members, their peers in Mesolandia, and at an annual Values Forum held at a private school in Barranquilla. I collected data from multiple sources, including but not limited to, field notes, archival data, and interviews. Data analysis suggests that science learning took place and that students interest in learning about science increased significantly. The participants ability to define problems through needs assessments, to confidently offer insightful solutions, and to make positive changes in the their community evolved over the course of the project. These positive results hinged on three major factors: a multifaceted curriculum that combined science learning with local social justice issues, the use of digital media and technology as a teaching tool, and a long-term engagement in the community by the researcher. Contextualizing the Study In 2000, the United Nations (2010) released The Millennium Declaration that outlined global development goals agreed upon by 189 world leaders. The goals include a target to ensure environmental sustainability by halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (p. 58). This declaration reported, a decade after the Millennium goals were proposed, that the percentage of people with access to drinking water in urban areas had remained unchanged, drinking water quality in urban areas had diminished due to agriculture and manufacturing, and 48 percent of people living in the worlds developing regions lived without basic sanitation. Urban and peri-urban areas in Colombia are microsystems that exemplify these global water and sanitation issues. Colombia is one of the most water-rich countries in the world. It is one of just six nations that have, within their borders, half of the worlds total renewable freshwater supply (Pearce, 2007). However, rivers in Colombia are severely polluted, seven percent of the population live without adequate access to clean drinking water (Gleick, 2009), and 17 percent of urban populations lack improved sanitation facilities (Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, 2010). As in many developing nations, a large percentage of the population is migrating or being displaced to urban areas, despite the fact that municipal infrastructure cannot keep up with population growth. Rapid and chaotic urbanization in Colombia is occurring at a higher rate due to the antiinsurgency and anti-narcotics campaigns sustained over the last seven years under President Alfredo Uribe (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre [IDMC], 2009). Although these efforts have undoubtedly weakened the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and reduced kidnapping and homicide rates, they have also disrupted unofficial governance of rural areas by illegal armed groups

and, by default, made cities safer places to live for people who were forced to give up their land. According to IDMC (2009), most displaced people in Colombia cite direct threats as the main reason they are forced from their rural homes. IDMC (2009) explains, threats are used to intimidate the civilian population and maintain the domination of illegal groups over certain areas, and also as a tool to drive small farmers from land to develop legal and illegal crops (p. 3). Internal displacement currently affects 4.6 million people in Colombia, between six and ten percent of the population, making it second in the world for the most internally displaced people after Sudan (IDMC, 2009). Of this population, 94 percent live below the poverty line and 94.5 percent live in shelters that do not allow them access to safe drinking water or sanitation (IDMC, 2009). The IDMC has identified the region surrounding Barranquilla as one of the areas of the country most in need of addressing the basic rights of this population. Water infrastructure development in urban areas has become an increasingly important factor in the international water debate and in the discourse surrounding social equity, public health, and human rights. Colombia is unique in that it has access to huge quantities of water, yet the country struggles to control the contamination of its rivers, industrial pollution levels, and domestic sanitation systems. However, according to Resources for the Future (RFF, 2010), Colombia is one of the most environmentally progressive countries in Latin America. The RFF (2010) reports, it was one of the first countries in the region to organize environmental administration along watershed boundaries, pilot a system of pollution taxes, require environmental impact assessments for large construction projects, and institutionalize legal remedies against polluters (para. 1). Because of these programs, pollution in major Colombian rivers after 1997 decreased significantly. Nonetheless, as a result of illegal industrial dumping and a lack of domestic sanitation infrastructure, the country still has significant environmental and human rights issues to address concerning water and sanitation. The larger geopolitical and environmental histories of Colombian water issues are relevant to this study because of the delicate relationship that exists between the public, industry, government and policy related to environmental matters, social equity, and public health. The significance of global water discourse was illustrated in a special edition of National Geographic in April 2010. In this publication, Kingsolver (2010) writes, Water is life. Its the briny broth of our origin, the pounding circulatory system of the world. We stake out civilizations on the coasts and mighty rivers. Our deepest dread is the treat of having too little - or too much (p. 38). In an article that provided a human face to a discussion about global water issues, Rosenberg (2010) writes about an Ethiopian womans life of too little water. Aylito Binayo is one of the millions of women and girls worldwide who spend the majority of their day, and the majority of their lives, hauling water long distances. According to Rosenberg (2010), Binayo dropped out of school at the age of eight and has been hauling 50 pounds of water on her back, up a mountain, three times a day, for the last 17 years. Women all over the world are severely impacted by lack of access to water and water shortages; Colombia is no exception. Sheryn, a Mesolandia resident and participant in this study, is in charge of water procurement and conservation in her household. She recently elected to leave school to wait each day for the unpredictable water service at her grandmothers residence. Sheryns family responsibilities include filling the familys tanque, a twenty-gallon garbage can, and rationing its contents until the next time water is available. Furthering her decision to stop attending school was a serious incident that happened with Sheryns younger brother. She explained, [My brother] had the accident where he was burned and he is more sensitive now because the burn has to stay clean all the time. Another family member elaborated, and when there is a lack of water he can get sick because [Sheryn] cant keep the floor clean. Sometimes she cant mop the floor because there is no water. Sheryn responded, So,

when he wants to get down [from my arms], because he crawls, I cant let him because the floor is not disinfected. This exhausts me because I spend the entire day carrying him while I am taking care of all the chores in my house. It is too much Narratives like Aylito and Sheryns are important illustrations of the critical connection between poverty eradication, economic growth in developing countries and broader social development (Pillay, 2006, p. 64). Women make up 70 percent of the worlds population living in poverty and are often charged with the responsibility of collecting water (Tignino, 2007, p. 524). Researchers have linked access to clean water to all people, but especially womens quality of life and ability to improve ones social position. Specifically, higher rates of education, better health, and lower risks of victimization in the form of rape and domestic violence are associated with womens access to clean drinking water and sanitation (Metwally, Saad, Ibrahim, Emam & El-Etreby, 2007; Conroy, Elmore-Meegan, Joyce, McGuigan, & Barnes, 1996; Holmstrom, 1999). Additionally, Pillay (2006) argues that no developing country has been able to developmentally advance without substantial investment in the human capital of its population in the form of investments in education, health, nutrition, water, and sanitation (p. 4). Recently, discourse related to global water issues has surged, including topics related to international degradation of freshwater resources, sustainability of large scale water projects built in the last century, rapid global urbanization, and an emerging capital interest in water investments (Metwally, et al. 2007). Water issues are global and multifaceted, but local conflicts and debates depend on geography, governability, and the global market. Whether the local debate is about degradation or overuse of water, ultimately if there is no agreement about how communities and industries can share water, the discourse stalls.

Findings During the course of this research, I used a critical ethnographic approach to investigate young adults changing knowledge about water science in a highly disenfranchised community near Barranquilla, Colombia. Critical ethnography integrates theory and practice in such a way that individuals and groups become aware of the contradictions and distortions in their belief systems and social practices and are motivated to change those beliefs and practices (Schwandt, 2007, p. 51). By utilizing research results in a way that participants gain self-understanding and self-direction, critical ethnography does more than display the results of the inquiry process (Kincheloe and McLaren, 2000, p. 297). In this study, I acted in a participatory manner to understand how knowledge acquisition by members of an after school program might translate into motivation, mobilization, and awareness about water and sanitation within the immediate community. Data from five long-term participants were gathered over a seven-month period. Although the size of the youth group fluctuated significantly during this time period (from four to fifteen students at any given meeting), these five students attended meetings regularly for the duration of the study. The participants critical views on local contamination issues began to truly take shape following a reflective activity centered on a problem-solution graphic organizer. Despite a general consensus of the students that industrial contamination was the main issue in Mesolandia, one participant identified domestic and urban contamination as his the primary type of contamination in the community. He wrote, Domestic and urban contamination can be found in almost all parts of Mesolandia and illustrated his ideas with a depiction of a house with a puddle full of trash and dead fish in the front and dead trees on the side.

This discussion on types of contamination found in Mesolandia proved to be an important turning point in the students knowledge base and interest in the project. Students retained and used vocabulary acquired in this lesson in subsequent independent writing activities, the scripts for their YouTube videos, photography projects, and in interviews. Furthermore, the participants ability to connect environmental issues and the right to live in a safe and sanitary place was evidenced by comments such as ...when I pass the Laguna I see leftover food, toxic waste, and plastic residue. The smoke and odor from the chicken processing plant contaminates Mesolandia and kills the trees what does this say about our neighborhood? This study explored how students from Mesolandia came to understand the global water debate by learning more about local water issues. The literature on science, social justice, and conservation education is far-reaching and diverse. However, recent works are disproportionately focused on water conservation, urban sanitation, and water ownership. Due to an increase in discourse and attention related to the global water debate, many researchers are trying to determine what purpose education programs about water, sanitation, hygiene, and the environment serve in trying to address global water issues. This study contributed to that scholarship. The outcomes of this study indicated that integrating contextualized environmental science issues with a social justice approach resulted in participants increased confidence in their ability to make positive changes in their community. This work was submitted in its entirety to the graduate faculty of the College of Education at Texas Christian University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education. !